Counting Jelly Beans

A while back I ran across this post–it was one of those buzz feed things that was intended to make you realize new and startling things about life. Anyway, this particular post was a fast motion video where they used jelly beans to represent every hour of a human life. So that came up to some ungodly amount of jelly beans when they started out. The jelly beans looked infinite. And then little by little they took some jelly beans away to show you as a baby–all that time you spent in the crib–and then they added up the hours you would sleep in a lifetime and removed all those jelly beans, then they figured the average commute to work and added all that up, and took more hours of jelly beans away and on and on, until they got to the end, and they had a very small amount of jelly beans left over. And then they said, these are the hours that you have to produce art. And they amounted to a a few handfuls of jelly beans.

And I said fuck off.

Well, I have thought about it often since then–I thought about it today, that my cup of jelly beans is almost empty, because after all, it is only a small amount of time that I have to produce my art. It didn’t inspire me to go home and write, it just made me feel bad that I only had a handful of jelly beans.

You know, thinking of life like that is about as fun as designing your own headstone.

The funny part of this jelly bean analogy is that when I was a kid, about 9 years old, on a day when I had nothing to do–very normal day, back then–I found a bag of jelly beans left over from Easter. Candy to kids is like gold, you know. You see this entire bag of flavored sugar and you about go through the roof just considering the sugar high that will follow.

Well, not me, not that day. I saw a different opportunity.

I carefully opened the bag and stuffed gobs of jelly beans into my pockets, just raw, no plastic bag–I think we were too poor for plastic bags–no protection, just right into my dirty pockets and I started off for the neighborhood. I went door to door–I won’t say “selling,” there was no sales pitch–I insisted that whoever answered the door, buy my AMAZING jelly beans. They said no, often, but I was not to be deterred. I, like a beggar, simply refused to leave until they bought one or two warm, sweaty handfuls.

I made a little money that day.

But I also gave away handfuls of my jelly beans.

Representing the hours of a life with jelly beans and then taking them away with each hour you sleep or drive to work or eat a meal, makes it seem like you never double up on activities. What if you eat while you drive? Or make money while you sleep? What if you multitask, or get your work done faster? Well, then I reason you should get some jelly beans back. They didn’t add any beans.

It doesn’t take a genius to realize that the hours of a person’s life cannot be accurately measured with jelly beans.

But, if we are going to use jelly beans as an analogy for time in a human life span and say that we really do have just a few sweaty handfuls of flavored sugar to beautify the world and make art and write poems and touch the human soul, then my hands are marbled with color, sticky and sweet, because I am squeezing these left over jelly beans for all my life’s worth.


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